The dog days of July, when birders desperately seek out south-bound shorebirds, odd breeding records, or anything else to keep themselves from losing their minds in a lousy birding time in the northeastern United States, is not my favorite time of year to bird. But after a long weekend in Niagara Falls and Toronto with my extended family, which featured virtually no birding, I was more than willing to get out at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday morning (the 4th of July) to see what was out and about.

Mostly, it was mosquitoes and green-headed flies that were out, both of which managed to get more than their fair share of blood from my veins. Though it was painful I persevered and managed to have a not-horrible time digiscoping young Yellow Warblers as they made their way into the world. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge feels like the world headquarters of Yellow Warblers so it’s generally not too difficult this time of year to find some fledglings, especially when they are in the obnoxious phase of begging continuously from their harried parents.

This particular fledgling, the same as the one in the image at the top of the post, was harassing its father to no end. And no wonder! Such an ugly little creature has to beg in order to get any attention or food!

Not only do fledglings have to deal with growing pains that make adolescent humans look gorgeous, but can you imagine how annoying pinfeathers, like the ones on top of this bird’s head, feel?

And, like humans on the cusp of adulthood, there are some angles from which fledglings don’t look so bad. Or at least not gross.

Look at this poor father. He was so busy trying to find bugs to stuff into the gaping maw of its offspring that he was really letting himself go.

Immediately after getting fed, this youngster starting begging some more. At least it’s not a cowbird?

In just a few short weeks the fledglings will look like this, which is a whole heck of a lot better. Of course, within seconds of my taking this photo an adult male Yellow Warbler charged in and drove this bird off. I’m not sure if it was this bird’s parent trying to force it to no longer be dependent or just a random adult defending territory. Either way, life isn’t easy for a young bird.

I guess I’ll keep checking out the local breeders until the shorebirds start to come back in numbers. Hopefully, the insects will leave me enough blood to make it until then…

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.